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10 incredible facts about mating rituals and animal sex

Kateryna Dutik

How animals reproduce - interesting facts about sex in the animal kingdom

Peculiar mating rituals are common throughout the animal kingdom. This is how they attract mates for successful reproduction.

The Mental Floss publication told us about the most interesting ones. From asexual worms to turtles that sound very loud when they do it, animal sex is much more complicated than you might think.

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1. Turtle Mating Sounds for Special Effects

It turns out that animal mating sounds can be very useful for attracting people's attention. When the authors of the movie Jurassic Park wanted to create the sounds of a velociraptor, they used turtle recordings.

2. Sharks' Varied Birth Methods

Australian scientists claim to have found a shark that gives birth virginally. They studied a female zebra shark named Leonie, who laid eggs despite not being around a male shark for three years. A few years before her virgin birth, Leonie gave birth after mating with a male shark.

She is not the only zebra shark to use her genetic material to fertilize eggs. A zebra shark named Bubbles reportedly did so in 2008 at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

3. Worms' Extended Dry Periods

After sequencing the DNA of asexual translucent worms, researchers at New York University found that one species, Diploscapter pachys, had not had sexual relations for about 18,000 years. This makes Diploscapter pachys one of the oldest known asexual reproductive species.

4. Big Cats Excited by Good Scents

Calvin Klein fragrances are sexually attractive to animals. Tigers and jaguars kept in captivity were inspired by the brand's Obsession for Men fragrance. Foresters used the scent to lure tigers out of the wild.

5. Crayfish Adapted Penises

The mustachioed crayfish have the most interesting penises in the animal kingdom. Their penises can stretch eight times their body length. And while the male body of many species can change size, few can change its shape.

But researchers in Alberta found that mudbug crayfish that live in mild waters have long and thin penises that are easy to reach, while those that live in rough waters have shorter and wider penises that are better at holding back strong waves.

The researchers then moved the stormy water crayfish to calmer water and vice versa, and found that after the move, the crayfish adjusted the shape of their penis to better suit their environment.

6. Water Bugs' Loud Mating

The water bug species Micronecta scholtzi is the loudest animal in the world relative to its size. The tiny creatures reach almost 100 decibels when they rub their penises against their stomachs. In fact, every time this bug gives a mating call, a rock concert takes place.

7. Ducks Defend Themselves with Their Vaginas

Duck penises can be terrifying: they are long and corkscrew-shaped and can be used as a lasso to drag females trying to escape unwanted advances. To prevent unwanted mating attempts by males, female ducks have evolved vaginas that twist in the opposite direction to the corkscrew-shaped penises of males. Discover Magazine called duck vaginas "organic chastity belts."

8. Most Birds Lack Penises

Only 3% of bird species have penises. Ostriches and ducks have them, but eagles and penguins do not. When birds get an erection, their penises fill with lymphatic fluid instead of blood. Birds without penises transfer sperm from male to female through a so-called "cloacal kiss."

9. Males Impress Potential Mates Desperately

Small birds such as titmice gather together to fight larger predators. It was generally believed that they do this for protection, but Brazilian researchers came to a different conclusion: the scientists created several fake owls, one from a species that regularly eats smaller birds and another from a less threatening species of owl. They found that among 79 different species of small birds, the less threatening owls were more likely to be attacked by the smaller birds. Their conclusion was that the small birds used the weaker opponent as an opportunity to demonstrate their defense skills to potential mates.

10. Animals' Lively Reproduction in Space

According to NASA, no human has ever had sex in space. But other animal species have been more active in reproduction outside our atmosphere.

The first pregnant mammals to fly into space aboard a US spacecraft were rats, and frogs became pregnant in orbit.

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